My eldest . . . the bright, beautiful daughter who reads people so well, whom we homeschooled from 2nd to 8th grade . . . my eldest and I had an interesting conversation in the car.
“It’s public school, mom. It destroys people.”
Destroys people? Wow. Strong words. How does it destroy people, I asked?
“There are nice kids and there are mean kids. And the mean kids pound on the nice kids until the nice kids have to get mean to survive.”
Ouch. Yes, I remember so well. Does that mean we should bring you home again?
“No, I’m already destroyed,” she replied with a smirk. A smirk I desperately clung to. No, she doesn’t really mean that . . .
So, should we have kept you at home and not sent you to public school for high school?
That provoked some thought on her part. “No,” she finally answered, “I would’ve had to have dealt with these people eventually – in college or something. It’s better to learn to deal with them now.”
Yes, that was our thinking at the time. Better now while she’s home with us and we can help her than later when she’s on her own. I feel better now. Even though we felt confident about the decision to send her to school at the time, there have been many moments since that I’ve been troubled with whether we’d done the right thing.
But I’m still troubled by her description of public school. I remember the first year we pulled her out. We joined a homeschool co-op, and I watched her interacting with the other kids with trepidation. From day one, I saw the difference. These other kids, who’d never been in school – they weren’t perfectly behaved or anything; I mean, they had the excess energy and lack of maturity that all six- and seven-year-olds have. But they did NOT display this pulling-down-someone-else-to-raise-myself-up behavior that was so representative of the other children she knew. I was genuinely afraid my kid would show her public school roots and end up being the behavior problem in class. And my kid was, in all seriousness, a very good kid.
Yes, I truly believe that public schools are a toxic environment in so many ways. A necessary thing in our society, but a toxic environment. Something needs to be done, but I don’t know what.
And . . . now I don’t know what to do with Kid #2. Sigh!! Parenting is SO HARD.